Melvyn Robinson, a multi-talented artist, musician and educator, was born in the market town of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, in 1933. His journey into the world of art began at Barnsley College of Art in 1950, and he continued to cultivate his skills at Manchester College of Art in 1955. Robinson's thirst for knowledge led him to Keele University, where he delved into the realms of combined arts and education, sparking a lifelong interest in developing an integrated curriculum.

As an advocate for the fusion of arts and education, Robinson embarked on a career in lecturing, sharing his passion for art at the College of Education in Cheshire, Hackney College in London, and the prestigious London Institute. Beyond the confines of academia, he extended his influence by teaching art and music across various schools in London, leaving a lasting mark on the creative minds he encountered.

In 1978, Robinson showcased his artistic prowess with his first solo exhibition at the Acme Gallery in Covent Garden, London. This was followed by numerous solo exhibitions at prominent venues such as the Cooper Art Gallery in Barnsley, The Air Gallery in London, The Mile End Art Pavilion in London, and The Gallery in Cadaques, Spain.

In addition to his solo shows, Robinson actively participated in group exhibitions, notably with the Whitechapel Community Arts across East London. His dedication to arts education shone through as he engaged in gallery education, fostering creativity and appreciation within the community. Regular open studios at the Acme Studios in London provided a platform for Robinson to connect with his audience, leading to a number of private commissions.

The walls of galleries, including the Mall Galleries, Bankside Gallery, Hackney Museum, the Brick Lane Gallery, and Candid Arts, bore witness to Robinson's impactful body of work. His diverse range of paintings were often accompanied with original poetry and music, which captivated audiences and left an enduring legacy.

Beyond the canvas, Robinson's pursuits extended into the realm of music. A skilled musician, he lent his talents to the Band of the Royal Corps of Signals and well-known jazz bands such as The Temperance Seven and The Bill Posters Will Be Band. His involvement in theatre productions, such as The Docks and Woyzeck at the Old Half Moon Theatre, and Pal Joey, Mahogonny, and Dreamer at the New Half Moon Theatre in London, showcased his versatility. He also worked at the Mermaid Theatre, London in a production of Trafford Tanzi. Notably, Robinson took on the role of composer in the production of Dreamer, which was the inspiration for one of his later paintings and demonstrated his commitment to combined arts.

Whether wielding a paintbrush or a musical instrument, Melvyn Robinson's creative journey traversed the boundaries of art, education, and performance, leaving an indelible mark on the cultural tapestry of his time.


Across the transformative decades spanning from the 1950s to the early 2010s, the artistic journey of Melvyn Robinson has been a fascinating exploration of seemingly disparate themes, each thread carefully woven with the belief that they would ultimately come together to form an integrated whole.

His creative odyssey began with the theme of Domicile, a portrayal of the rural and industrial landscapes of South Yorkshire. In these works, Robinson captured the essence of a place, bridging the gap between the pastoral beauty and the gritty reality of industrialisation.

As life led Robinson to London, the theme of Displacement emerged, echoing his personal experience of separation from family and homeland. This phase gave birth to artworks characterized by fragmented images, a visual disturbance that mirrored the emotional turbulence of being uprooted. Coleridge's poem, 'Kubla Khan,' served as a muse, inspiring Robinson to create a series of works that resembled a set of seemingly unconnected visions, much like the poem itself.

A later thematic exploration delved into Dichotomies, drawing inspiration from the classical Greek myth of 'Icarus and the Minotaur.' Here, Robinson skilfully translated the complexities of the myth into a series of paintings, exploring the inherent contradictions and dualities within human nature. The dichotomies depicted in his art mirrored the eternal struggle between opposing forces, a timeless narrative captured in his work.

In the theme Depersonalisation, Robinson ventured into the perfect world of geometry. Here, he believed that the world of shapes and precision could offer perfect solutions. His works within this theme not only showcased extraordinary complexity but also hinted at a foresight beyond his time. These pieces, with their geometric allure, resonated with the specialised fields of research that would later define the age of computers and automation.

Direction emerges as a thematic compass guiding Robinson's artistic evolution, with developments on his homage to William Blake and the fusion of landscapes with see-through heads. In these works, he orchestrates the simultaneous presentation of multiple levels of consciousness, inviting viewers to traverse the intricacies of thought and perception.

Robinson's exploration of these themes led him to discern patterns and connections that transcended individual pieces, prompting him to classify his work into five distinct, interrelated categories. Together, these five distinct categories form the nucleus of Robinson’s creative universe. The five categories comprise:

I Representation: Mimesis
In the initial strokes of Robinson’s artistic endeavour, he embarks on a voyage of imitation, capturing the essence of reality through a collection of art school sketches from the familiar landscapes of his hometown in and around Barnsley, South Yorkshire. These early works serve as the raw material - a foundation upon which the subsequent layers of exploration would unfold.

II Analysis: Structure
The early sketches undergo a metamorphosis, revisited and reworked with a meticulous dedication to structural and geometric reduction. This analytical phase serves as a crucible, distilling the essence of the subjects into a purer form - a visual dialectic between the concrete and the abstract.

III Forms: Geometry
Venturing into the realm of two-dimensional possibilities, Robinson delves into the mesmerising intricacies of regular geometric tessellations. The canvas becomes a playground for the manifestation of forms, each stroke a deliberate dance in the geometric symphony.

IV Phenomena: Ambiguities
As the geometric tessellations evolve, a new dimension emerges - one of ambiguous phenomena and three-dimensional perspectives. The interplay between form and the enigmatic phenomena within the geometric confines creates a visual poetry, inviting the viewer into a realm where perception and reality intersect.

V Transformations: Transcendence
Building upon the previous two categories, Robinson embarks on a transformative journey. The geometric abstraction transcends its boundaries, giving birth to works where a transcendental representation emerges. The categories thus converge, completing a circular narrative.

As one delves into the labyrinthine corridors of Robinson's artistic journey, a revelation emerges - a reflection on the organic evolution of his work. The artist himself acknowledged that these distinct five categories, although initially appearing as if by happenstance, intricately align with the developments witnessed in 20th-century philosophy. It is as if his artistic intuition tapped into the zeitgeist of intellectual thought, resonating with the parallel currents flowing through the landscape of ideas.

In contemplating his work, Robinson drew inspiration from Maurice Merleau-Ponty's profound insight, in "Eye and Mind" (1960). Merleau-Ponty, a luminary of existential phenomenology, mused on the trajectory of modern painting, observing that its true essence lay not in choices between line and colour, or figurative depiction and the creation of signs. Instead, the driving force behind modern painting, according to Merleau-Ponty, was the relentless pursuit of multiplying systems of equivalences.

This philosophical resonance reverberates through Robinson's artistic pursuits. In each nuanced composition, Robinson navigates the intricate dance between elements, seeking to establish new systems of equivalences within the canvas. The artist's profound engagement with this philosophical undercurrent adds a deeper meaning to his creations, transforming them into more than mere visual spectacles.

Robinson's work, thus, stands as a testament to the symbiosis between art and philosophy, where the canvas becomes a playground for the exploration of profound ideas. His five categories serve as portals into a world where visual expression and intellectual contemplation intertwine, inviting viewers to embark on a journey through the multiplicity of systems of equivalences that define both his art and the intellectual landscape of the 20th and early 21st century.